Starring: John Candy, Alan Alda, Rhea Perlman
Director: Michael Moore
Running Time: 91 mins
Canadian Bacon is an American film about a US President struggling to retain public support in the years after the Cold War, so sets about fabricating a military emergency between the US and Canada.
From writer-director Michael Moore, you can’t really expect anything else from this film but a biting satire of American culture. However, Canadian Bacon is a thoroughly entertaining watch, with enough good comedy to prove Moore can impress outside of the documentary field, even if it never quite matches up to the likes of Dr. Strangelove, as it is clearly trying to do.
The best thing about this film by far is its comedy. The comedic performances from the likes of John Candy are good, but it’s Moore’s clever satirical humour that really makes for the biggest laughs. Poking fun ingeniously at both Canadians and Americans (in fact more so Americans), there’s so much to laugh at in Canadian Bacon, but also a lot of humour that makes you think hard.
If there is any part of the film that matches up to Dr. Strangelove, then it’s the way Moore goes about criticising the US government’s likely actions in a hypothetical situation such as this. There are a lot of controversial and very pushy comments on the American government throughout military history (to be expected from Michael Moore), but when the film reaches its darkest and most tense moments, the excellent comedic political commentary packs a great punch.
The fact that that type of humour was done so well was easily the reason why I most enjoyed the film, but I did also find the story pretty entertaining too. Again, it’s a cross between total farce (i.e. Canada and the US at war) and political commentary (government influencing Americans into doing absolutely anything), but it makes for a surprisingly compelling watch.
Moore does a great job at making such a ridiculous situation perfectly believable, whilst also succeeding in giving all of the various main characters a genuinely interesting story arc throughout. The film is separated between the exploits of the President in initiating the tensions, as well as a group of plucky police officers from the US-Canadian border.
I’m not going to deny that I would have liked a little more President, and a little less John Candy, but the balance was still pretty solid overall, and I never felt like either side really dragged, even if I found one more interesting than the other.
In the end, I really liked Canadian Bacon. I know it’s not the most acclaimed film, and I’m not on board with some of Moore’s political commentary, but as a film-watching experience, it does a great job, thanks to its clever satirical humour, interesting characters, decent performances, and surprisingly compelling story, and that’s why it gets a 7.7 from me.